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Plans to build micro-home community for homeless in Fredericton receives provincial support

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Plans to build a community of micro-homes in Fredericton, N.B. for people experiencing homelessness in the city is one step closer to becoming a reality after the project received a cash injection of more than $1.4 million from the province.

Bruce Fitch, minister of social development, says organizations like 12 Neighbours Community Inc. – a not-for-profit that plans to build 96 micro-homes in Fredericton's north side – are an essential part to addressing homelessness.

“The micro-home project is an extremely innovative way to provide a roof to people in need," said Fitch.

“Individuals currently experiencing homelessness are often struggling with many issues which become severe obstacles in their life,” Marcel LeBrun, founder of 12 Neighbours Community Inc., said Thursday. “The path to recovery begins with an affordable and safe home within an inclusive and supportive community.”

A release from the province says the $1,440,000 will come in the form of a forgivable loan through the Affordable Rental Housing Program.

The department will also provide rent supplements to each of the new housing units of the first phase of the project to ensure tenants do not pay more than 30 per cent of their total household income in rent.

The first phase is expected to be complete by March 2023 and will entail 36 micro-homes arranged in blocks of 12.

Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin says Thursday's announcement reaffirms that housing is essential to people's "sense of dignity, safety, inclusion and ability to contribute to the fabric of our neighbours."

Atwin spoke on behalf of federal Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Minister, Ahmed Hussen.

The 12 Neigbours community will consist of a series of fully independent and detached micro-homes on their own small private yard.

"Each home will be 18 sq. metres (200 sq. feet) and will have a covered front deck," read the province’s release. "The homes will have three-piece bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, sleeping spaces for one or two people, plus living and dining areas. The homes will also have storage lofts and cathedral ceilings."

Funding for the project comes from the Canada-New Brunswick Bilateral Agreement under the 2017 National Housing Strategy, through which $300 million will be invested to ensure that the most vulnerable populations have safe, affordable housing options.

The release also says the micro-homes will be built in accordance with the province’s Green Building standards and will be connected to the city water and sewer system.

The community will eventually include a social enterprise centre with retail space and services. The goal is to create 96 micro-homes within the next two years.

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